28 July 2020 will mark the 13th World Hepatitis Day, a day that reminisces the progress made till date and the challenges that are left to eradicate the chronic and dreaded viral, HEPATITIS!
With so many ‘world days’ and important dates taking space in our calendars, people often remain skeptical about the impact of these days. But, fortunately, this is not true for the WHD. It completely proves the skeptics wrong, as it has evolved and exceeded all expectations.
Viral hepatitis is referred to as the liver inflammation, which is caused by the infection that is related to a number of unrelated liver viruses named as hepatitis viruses A-E.
The virus is typically spread through infected body fluids and infected drinking water. The virus kills millions of people globally, with many of them suffering from hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
While hepatitis A and E are caused because of the food poisoning, the B and C cause the blood-borne infection. The results of this situation can lead to many long-term cirrhotic damages, end-stage liver disease, as well as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
However, irrespective of the virus you are suffering, staggeringly, a maximum number of those infected are completely unaware of the illness and don’t go for any treatment.
Evolution Of WHD:
World hepatitis day, marked by the WHO (World Health Organization), is one of the eight official and global public health campaign started by the organization. The starting international hepatitis C awareness day, which was coordinated by various Middle Eastern and European patients groups took place on October 1, 2004.
The league was continued by many patients with each one marking ‘hepatitis day’ on disparate dates. Therefore, for this reason only, in 2008, the World Hepatitis Alliance with the collaboration with many patients groups declared 19 May as the first global WHD.
However, later the Head of the Gastroenterology, SCB Cuttack proposed the idea of celebrating HD in the institute premises on 28 July. Following the adoption of the resolution on 63rd World Health Assembly day on May 2010, WHD was given the global reorganization, and the date was changed to 28 July.
The resolution then stated that the 28 July would be celebrated as the WHD to provide an opportunity for greater understanding of the day and to allow letting others understand it.
The day now is recognized in more than 100 countries every year and is celebrated with events like poster campaigns, demonstrations, flash mobs, talk shows, free screenings, and more.
The main aim of the day is:
- To offer support to strengthen the hepatitis prevention, testing, its treatment, and other care services with focusing primarily on the WHO treatments and testing.
- To show the best treatments and practices
- And to involve more partners and groups in the campaign
WHD also embarks as the most important day as the disease has been neglected and not treated for many years, despite killing millions around the world. Today, there are medical professionals, policymakers, and many patients involved to spread awareness and to influence change in its prevention.
As we celebrated the WHD on 28 July, honoring late Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who was a noble price holder for discovering Hepatitis B, we can marvel at how much we have improved the lives of sufferers in the past few decades. But, the work is yet not finished, there’s much more to be done to eradicate the viral deaths completely.
Treatment And Detection Of Hepatitis:
Gauging upon these symptoms can do the early detection. However, most patients don’t have all the symptoms. You may observe:
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Pale or clay-colored stool
- Yellow skin or eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick from stomach
- Low-grade fever
If you have these symptoms, you will undergo a blood test to ensure the presence of the antibody. There might be a situation when one blood sample will not be enough to detect the virus.
The more blood samples will detect if the virus is acute or it has gone to the chronic stage. Since most people don’t suffer any symptoms, physicians also call this virus as a silent killer.
Your doctors might ask for a liver biopsy, a sample of tissues to measure the extent of the viral and the damage done by it.
Common Treatments Involve:
The cure and the treatment of the viral depend on a person’s situation and on the stage of infection. While you can go to your primary care healthcare provider for detection.
If you suffer chronic illness, you may require treatment from the gastroenterologist or hepatologist who are specialist of the disease. Although hepatitis A needs minimum liver treatment ( you only need to stay hydrated and nourished), the B and C may need antiviral medication and drug therapy.
However, the standard treatment is going for a course of ribavirin for the patients who suffer genotype 2 and 3, and peginterferon plus ribavirin plus for patients with genotype 1.
Elbasvir- grazoprevir ( Zepatier), Ledipasvir-sofosbuvir (Harvoni), and Sofosbuvir- velpatasvir (Epclusa) are the pills used for treating hepatitis C. These medicines can cure the virus in 8-12 weeks.
- Liver Function Test: these test uses blood samples to determine how efficiently the liver works. If there’s a high liver enzyme in your body, it means your liver is stressed and damaged.
- Blood Test: A blood test will determine the source of the problem and will check for antibodies that are quite common in the condition like autoimmune hepatitis.
- Ultrasound: The ultrasound uses waves to create an image of organs that are in the abdomen. The test will reveal the fluid in your abdomen, liver damage, tumors in the liver, and abnormalities of the gallbladder.
- Liver Biopsy : It’s an invasive procedure that allows the doctor to take a sample of tissues from the liver. The test can be done either through the needle and doesn’t need surgery. It can be used to sample the areas in the liver that look abnormal.
Data Insights By WHO:
Globally, there are around 325 people that are living with the HBV or HCV virus. The reports suggest that there are approximately 1.34 million deaths occurred in 2015, which was equal to the deaths occurred by HIV and tuberculosis.
However, since the mortality from HIV and tuberculosis has declined, the HCV is increasing. There were approx. 1.75 million new people affected with HCV in 2015, bringing the global reports to 71 million. Here are some WHO regions that are affected:
- Western Pacific region- 6.2%, approx. 115 million people
- African region- 6.1% making approximately 60 million people
- Eastern Mediterranean region- 3.3% with 21 million people
- Southeast Asia Region with 2% population
- Who region of America- 0.7% of the population making 7 million people
Types Of Hepatitis:
Hepatitis is of five types, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E with A being the acute and short-term viral. However, B, C, and D are ongoing and chronic disease. Also, Hepatitis E is acute but can become harmful for pregnant women.
The infection causes it with HAV virus. It is commonly caused by consuming food and contaminated water from an infected person.
It is transmitted through contact with the sufferer’s fluids like vaginal secretions, blood, fluid from siemens, and more. Things, like using the patient’s razor, having sex, and using injections, can increase the risk of getting hepatitis B.
It comes from the hepatitis C virus and is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids. It is one of the most common bloodborne viral infections.
Hepatitis D is called delta hepatitis, which is a serious liver disease caused by HVD. It’s a rare form of hepatitis that occur with the combination with the HBV.
It’s a waterborne disease that is caused by the hepatitis E (HEV). It is often affected by the people living in poor sanitation area. They also result in ingesting fecal that contaminates the water.
Michael J. Sofia- The Main Researcher Of Hepatitis C:
Michael J. Sofia is a chemist whose main researches focus primarily on hepatitis C and B. in 2016; he was awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for his researches on the chronic HCV. The research was done along with the Ralf F. W. Bartenschlager and Charles M. Rice.
He is currently the chief scientific officer and co-founder of the Arbutus Biopharma. Besides, he is also awarded as IUPAC- Richter Prize in Medicinal Chemistry and the Economist innovation award for his researches in Bioscience category for developing Sofosbuvir.
Although, there is no current vaccine to 100% cure this chronic viral, the WHO’s Global Health sector is currently working on viral hepatitis, which aims to treat at least 80% people by 2020.